The time for talking a good game but failing to back it up is gone for the Proteas, and the leadership of Quinton de Kock has started in a refreshing manner.
Photo Copyright – Steve Haag Sports
De Kock had to suffer through more press conferences than usual ahead of the first match of the ODI series, but it was on the field that he impressed.
In a tricky chase of just over 250 at a venue where batting second can be more difficult than is customary in the white-ball arena, he played the perfect captain’s knock.
Before that, the Proteas were sharp in the field and did well with the ball under the command of the soft-spoken wicketkeeper.
De Kock’s predecessor Faf du Plessis has been a charismatic figure both on the field and in press conference’s, offering the media plenty to work with in terms of soundbites and the occasional sarcastic retort. From De Kock, we can expect the press box activity to come straight from the Cricket South Africa media training handbook, but his on-field activity will be more interesting.
Du Plessis has been criticised for failing to recognise when his plans are going awry, but in the first match against England de Kock showed a willingness to change things and made some smart choices.
De Kock doesn’t come across as a genius when forced to speak on camera, his cricketing intelligence is on-point though, and he already has a huge amount of experience behind him despite being just 27-years-old.
The Proteas ODI opener also appears to be determined to be a leader with the bat and his commanding performance at Newlands should be just the beginning.
De Kock does not have any obvious technical deficiencies in his game barring a tendency to struggle against off-spin, which is not uncommon even among the best left-handers in the world.
The captaincy seems like it might focus his mind making him an even more dangerous player in the ODI format.
De Kock now faces the challenge for replicating his Newlands display over and over again until the Proteas are back where they want to be in white-ball cricket.
Graeme Smith and Mark Boucher have the luxury of getting to build white-ball teams around the superb wicketkeeper-batsman, and there is every reason to place confidence in de Kock as the limited-overs leader.